Tom Bone loves to draw. "I have been drawing ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil, that's what my mom always told me," Bone said. "When I was younger I would love to draw characters out of comic books and cartoon shows on TV, whatever was out there."
Tom has been producing cartoons for publications at Annual Conference since the early 1990s. Bone said he draws inspiration from the daily proceedings of the event.
"In any gathering of this size, there is usually something that is funny and that's the first thing," Bone said. "Something that seems out of context or something that has two different kinds of meanings, it's just funny to think about people who might attach the wrong meaning to the wrong word and then you've got a joke, you've got a cartoon."
One of his first submissions was of Bishop Grove when he was first bishop of the West Virginia Area.
"It did give me a little pause when I first drew the bishop of annual conference and wondered if I would be brought before the bar or something, but none of that has ever happened, it's fun," Bone said.
In fact, Tom said he's never heard a complaint about his cartoons at Annual Conference.
"An Annual Conference I have had some pastors and members come up to me and say they're amused by it, that it was funny, that they got a kick out of it, that they enjoyed it, and that is really a heart warming thing," Bone said. "I think they have a place and I think people enjoy them."
It takes him between 20 minutes to four hours to finish a drawing, depending on the complexity. One of the most challenging ones he remembers came from Annual Conference in 2011 when he drew a dove breaking through the pages of the conference workbook.
"It seemed like we were getting bogged down in the minutiae instead of being inspired to go and follow the word of God where it leads," Bone said.
In his day job, Tom is a sports writer for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. He also contributes editorial cartoons weekly to the Princeton Times.
"When I was hired they realized they were getting an editorial cartoonist at no additional charge," Bone said.
Tom said his talent has taken years to hone, but gives credit to God for his ability.
"I have to say that I believe that it is a God given talent but like with a lot of God given abilities, it's up to the individual to refine it, and to do something with it," Bone said. "I was lucky enough to be encouraged throughout my young life to keep drawing. The secret there is to constantly observe and constantly challenge yourself to perfect things and get better."